Harvey Dorfman was a sports psychologist who counseled many of baseball’s most successful hitters and pitchers. Dorfman worked with major league baseball’s top athletes, and published prominent books on the mental aspects of baseball. Among his list of star clients are sluggers Alex Rodriguez, Mark McGwire, Jose Canseco, and Cy Young Award-winning pitchers Greg Maddux, Bob Welch, and Roy Halladay.
In 2000, Halladay set the record for highest ERA ever, among MLB pitchers (10.53) with a minimum 50 innings pitched. His performance continued to slump so he was sent not just to the minors, but all the way down to Class A. While in the minor leagues Halladay’s wife introduced him a book titled “The Mental ABC’s of Pitching,” by Harvey Dorfman, which covers 80 separate topics from A (“Adjustments” and “Adversity”) to Z (“Zeros”).
The reading helped Halladay work his way back to the Major Leagues, finishing the season 5-3 with a 3.16 ERA.The following season, Halladay went 19-7, but couldn’t quiet the nagging fear that his success could end at any given time. That is until he met with Dorfman after a Blue Jays game and asked him for advice about his fear of failure.
“His whole mantra is, ‘One pitch at a time,'” Halladay said of Dorfman, “and he helped me get to that point. Different things might come up and distract you or complicate things, but the bottom line is being able to go out and go pitch-to-pitch.”
Dorman helped Halladay develop a mental game plan that calls for repetition of mental skills in his daily routine, and replicating what he did when he was successful. “All pitchers have a set routine, but he may put himself in the so-called ‘zone’ a little longer than most people. On days he pitches, he’s pretty locked in,” said Roy Oswalt. Halladay’s routine also gives him something to fall back on should things go wrong, which is why he is able to go the distance whenever his team needs him too. Veteran Pitcher Jamie Moyer is the oldest active player in the league, and has never seen anything to compare with Halladay’s ambitious pursuit of excellence.”Every waking moment, from what I know of him, is focused on his job or preparing for his next start. He’s here for a purpose, and that’s to win baseball games,” said Moyer.
Halladay’s ability to immerse into complete concentration on the mound was evident in his perfomance during the 2010 season. Halladay threw a perfect game against the Marlins and in his post-season debut he threw the second no- hitter in Major league postseason history. This earned him a spot in the record books as the first pitcher in MLB history to throw a perfect game and a no-hitter in the same season. Halladay contributes much of his success to focusing on the mental game of baseball with the late Harvey Dorfman.